Friday, May 31, 2013

A.X. Ahmad's "The Caretaker"

A.X. Ahmad was raised in India, educated at Vassar College and M.I.T., and has worked internationally as an architect. His short stories have been published in literary magazines, and he’s been listed in Best American Essays. The Caretaker is his first novel, to be followed by Bollywood Taxi next year. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Here Ahmad dreamcasts a big screen adaptation of The Caretaker:
Readers say that my thriller, The Caretaker would make a great movie.

It is the first mainstream thriller set in America with an Indian protagonist. It moves between a gray, snowy winter in Martha’s Vineyard, and a backstory set in vibrant India. It features both a love story and an explosive political plot. If you like multicultural, brainy thrillers, with real characters, then this would be the movie for you.

But when my literary agent approached some movie folks, they balked.

“How can there an Indian action hero?” they said. “Indians can be computer programmers or doctors. Even terrorists. But not the star of a thriller.”

Since I’m already doomed, imagining my book as a movie is a purely academic exercise. But what the hell, an Indian can dream, can’t he?

The director of course would be Mira Nair (The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Monsoon Wedding).

Ranjit Singh, the protagonist of my book, was once an elite soldier, but in America he is now essentially a servant. To play this proud, broken man, I’d choose Bollywood heartthrob Ranbir Kapoor.

Ranjit’s love interest, Anna, is the African-American wife of a US Senator. Anna, sexy as all hell and very intelligent, would of course be played by the great Halle Berry. Her husband, the lumbering, deal-making Senator, would have to be Forest Whitaker.

There is also a ghost—one of Ranjit’s dead former comrades who haunts him. Om Puri, with his scarred face and haunting voice, is the obvious choice.

Soundtrack by A.R. Rahman, who combines techno and house with traditional Indian music. If you haven’t heard his work, run out and buy the Dil Se soundtrack.

Oh yeah. And I’d like a cameo. Maybe I could be one of the homeless people that Ranjit runs into in Boston when he’s on the run. Wait. Can homeless people be Indian? I’ll have to check with Central Casting.
Learn more about the book and author at A.X. Ahmad's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: The Caretaker.

Writers Read: A.X. Ahmad.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Michael Stanley's "Deadly Harvest"

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Their mysteries are set in Botswana, each against a backdrop of a current issue in southern Africa. Their protagonist is David “Kubu” Bengu, assistant superintendent in the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department (CID). The third novel in the series, Death of the Mantis, was short listed for an Edgar and an Anthony, and won the Barry Award for best paperback original mystery of 2011.

Here the authors dreamcast an adaptation of Deadly Harvest, the fourth Detective Kubu mystery:
Our main character, Assistant Superintendent David “Kubu” Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department (CID), is a large man. It’s no accident that his nickname “Kubu” means hippopotamus in the local language, Setswana.

James Earl Jones would be a wonderful Kubu. He has the perfect balance of gravity and levity, as well as an imposing presence and size. The only problem is that Kubu is in his thirties and Jones is in his eighties. That wouldn’t work.

Fortunately, there is another actor who would fill Kubu’s shoes. That is Forest Whitaker, who played Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. He too has what it takes to dominate a scene, as well as the ability to blend humor and chilling intensity. In reality, of course, the movie makers would choose whomever they wanted – just look at Lee Child’s tall Jack Reacher being played very successfully by not-so-tall Tom Cruise. Ultimately it’s the acting that carries a scene, not how closely the character matches the writer’s mental picture.

Unlike most protagonists in mystery novels, Kubu is a very nice man. He’s happily married and visits his parents every Sunday if he is not away on a case. Kubu’s wife, Joy, is a strong woman – a role that Jill Scott would fill with panache. Of course, she has plenty of experience of being a woman in Botswana, having played Mma Precious Ramotswe in Alexander McCall-Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series.

Kubu has a love-hate relationship with his prickly and often sarcastic boss, Director Jacob Mabaku. Mabaku is constantly irked by Kubu’s habit of circumventing normal procedures and is often forced to defend him to the Police Commissioner and to the press. But he also admires Kubu’s intuition and ability to solve tough cases. Denzel Washington would handle this ambiguity skillfully. Morgan Freeman would be an ideal Wilmon Bengu, Kubu’s father, and Whoopi Goldberg, would make an excellent Amantle Bengu, Kubu’s mother.

In our latest mystery, Deadly Harvest, we have three additional characters to cast. First is a small female detective, Samantha Khama. She is understandably unhappy about the treatment she’s receiving as the first woman in the CID. We’d ask Kerry Washington (of Django Unchained) to fill this role. The second is Witness Maleng, whose daughter has been abducted and feared murdered for body parts. We like Chris Tucker (Silver Linings Playbook) for this role. Finally there is the frightening witchdoctor. How about Samuel L. Jackson of Pulp Fiction?

The final character in our mysteries is the country of Botswana itself. We think that Botswana is unique, what with its Kalahari Desert and verdant Okavango Delta. And its vast areas of uninhabited land and wonderful wildlife. Much of the location for our novels could be recreated on set, but other parts would need to be shot in Botswana for the full flavor to come through and to complement this star-studded cast.
Learn more about the book and authors at Michael Stanley's website.

Read: Michael Stanley's top ten African crime novels.

The Page 69 Test: Deadly Harvest.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Patrick Bishop's "The Hunt for Hitler’s Warship"

Patrick Bishop was born in London and went to Wimbledon College and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Before joining the Telegraph he worked on the Evening Standard, the Observer and the Sunday Times and in television as a reporter on Channel Four News. He is the author with John Witherow of Battle for the Falklands based on their own experiences and with Eamon Mallie of The Provisional IRA which was praised as the first authoritative account of the modern IRA. He also wrote a memoir of the first Gulf War, Famous Victory and a history of the Irish diaspora The Irish Empire, based on the TV series which he devised.

Here Bishop dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest book, The Hunt for Hitler’s Warship:
The outstanding character in The Hunt for Hitler’s Warship is Wing Commander James ‘Willie’ Tait, the man who landed the bomb on the battleship Tirpitz that finally sent her to the bottom. He was such an unusual character that it is hard to think of a bygone actor to play him, let alone a contemporary one. Tait was the commander of 617 Squadron, The ‘Dam Busters’ who were formed specially to destroy the great dams of the Ruhr valley, the heartland of Germany’s war industry. Mission accomplished, they went on to perform many other extraordinary feats. Tait was their third real leader. The first was Guy Gibson who led the Dams raid. Gibson [played by Richard Todd in the 1955 movie, The Dam Busters] was brash and vain but also rather troubled and insecure. When taken off operational flying to make propaganda tours of Britain and the U.S. he became depressed, begged to return and was shot down and killed on his first raid. After a stop-gap appointment he was replaced by Leonard Cheshire. Cheshire was an equally great warrior but had a completely different personality showing extraordinary concern and kindess to all his men, aircrew and ground staff alike, and combining great good humour with an almost saint-like aura of spirituality. After the war he set up the Cheshire Homes to look after war victims which have evolved into homes for the handicapped and are found all over the world.

Cheshire was a hard act to follow. But Tait, who took over in 1944, was equally impressive albeit in a different way. Despite his great skill as a pilot, his technical knowledge learned as a professional R.A.F. airman before the war and his outstanding courage, which carried him through more than a hundred operations, a feat which meant in actuarial terms he should have been dead three or four times over, he was almost pathologically modest and shy. He found the beery camaraderie of the mess hard to endure and after half a pint would return to his room to listen to classical music. He internalised his feelings, displaying an icy calm which gave no hint of his inner life. After the war his lack of social skills meant he failed to prosper in the R.A.F. and he left to a new career in the early days of computing with an insurance company. Tait remained an enigma, even to those who had flown with him.

The actor who would be best suited to playing him would be Dirk Bogarde. They share the same slight physique and dark hair and Bogarde I think would be able to capture both Tait’s warrior qualities and his sensitivity and his unease in a world of boisterous men. Bogarde fought in the war himself as a captain in the infantry so had some first hand knowledge. He also played a character remarkably similar to Tait – a young wing commander who disobeys orders to fly a ninetieth mission – in Appointment in London (1953). Bogarde is long dead, of course, and I can’t think of a contemporary actor of the right age who has the subtlety to get Tait right. They simply don’t make actors – or airmen – like that any more.
Learn more about the book and author at Patrick Bishop's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Hunt for Hitler’s Warship.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 27, 2013

Kathleen Tessaro's "The Perfume Collector"

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kathleen Tessaro attended the University of Pittsburgh before entering the drama program of Carnegie Mellon University. In the middle of her sophomore year, she went to study in London for three months and stayed for the next twenty-three years. She began writing at the suggestion of a friend and was an early member of the Wimpole Street Writer’s Workshop. Her debut novel, Elegance, became a bestseller in hardback and paperback. All of Tessaro's novels including Innocence, The Flirt, The Debutante, and most recently, The Perfume Collector have been translated into many languages and sold all over the world. She returned to Pittsburgh in 2009.

Here Tessaro dreamcasts an adaptation of The Perfume Collector:
If The Perfume Collector were made into a movie, I'd be extremely lucky and pleased under any conditions. There are many young actresses I'd be thrilled to see play the roles of both Eva and Grace, among them, Marion Cotillard and Claire Foy come to mind. Marion Cotillard is capable of transforming so fluidly; her sensuality and intelligence radiate in each movement and she's the kind of woman who looks as if she would smell incredible. Claire Foy on the other hand brings fragile restraint and combines it with a huge underlying vulnerability. She's distinctly English in many ways; a lovely contrast to Marion. I'd love to see Michael Fassbender play Lambert and possibly Romain Duris for Valmont, though I have to admit it would be strange to see two accomplished French actors playing out their scenes together in English. But who to play the mysterious Madame Zed? Is it too much to ask for Helen Mirren? If Ang Lee could find it in his heart to direct, I'd be over the moon. Do you recall the precise sense of place he brought to Sense and Sensibility? Evocative without being sentimental.
Learn more about the book and author at Kathleen Tessaro's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Adam Mitzner's "A Case of Redemption"

Adam Mitzner is the author of A Conflict of Interest and the new legal thriller, A Case of Redemption.

Here he dreamcasts a big-screen adaptation of Case of Redemption:
There are three main characters in A Case of Redemption: Dan Sorensen, who has just lost his wife and daughter and left his high powered New York City law firm; Nina Harrington, the beautiful, young lawyer who convinces him to take on the case of Legally Dead, and Legally Dead, the up and coming rapper accused of murdering his pop star girlfriend.

I don't cast the parts as I'm writing, but I do think about a type:

For Dan, the actor has to have some gravitas and be able to convey that he's suffering. I'm a huge Mad Men fan, and so Jon Hamm comes immediately to mind. He may be too conventionally handsome for the role, however, as I envision Dan being a notch or maybe two below Nina in looks. Although they are also easy on the eyes (or so the ladies tell me), I would prefer someone with less conventional good looks, and a little more of an edge. Two actors I admire who fit that bill are Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Fassbender.

Nina is described as very beautiful, and her beauty is a major component to the character, but it's equally important that the actress convey her intelligence, so that you understand the connection she has with Dan. My love of Lost leads me to Evangeline Lilly. Mila Kunis could also do the role justice, as would Olivia Wilde and Olivia Munn.

It would be great if the movie version of Legally Dead used a real rap star to play my fictional rapper. The actor would have to be physically imposing, and it's a very tough role because the viewer should like Legally Dead, even while being unsure he's not a brutal murderer. It would also be great if he was an unknown, just like Legally Dead.
Learn more about the book and author at Adam Mitzner's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Conflict of Interest.

Writers Read: Adam Mitzner (May 2011).

My Book, The Movie: A Conflict of Interest.

The Page 69 Test: A Case of Redemption.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 24, 2013

Kit Reed's "Son of Destruction" & "The Story Until Now"

Kit Reed's books include a new novel, Son of Destruction and The Story Until Now: a Great Big Book of Stories, which features some Reed classics as well as her personal favorites over several decades, including six new stories, never before collected.

Here she shares some ideas about adapting the books for the big screen:
Well, let's see. Since we're talking about two books here, I'll start with the novel. Not stars, necessarily; the looks. For Son of Destruction, a long, lean, intense dark-haired actor to play Walker Pike, and a John Goodman type to play his genial, slick younger brother; for Dan Carteret, again, tall, sandy-haired, intent, rather than intense. A gang of good old boys and homefolks as supporting players and oh, if Ethel Barrymore hadn't died about a hundred years ago, Ethel Barrymore to play Lorna Carteret, the society matron who... oh, never mind. She would be perfect.

As for The Story Until Now, we have parts for rhesus monkeys, a black dog who knows when the next person's gonna die, feral Girl Scouts of all ages and somebody to play opposite an automatic tiger. A Haitian zombie prince... What to say, it's a casting bonanza!

And who would direct? Anybody but Michael Bay or Baz Luhrmann.
Learn more about the author and her work at Kit Reed's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Erin McGraw's "Better Food for a Better World"

Born and raised in Redondo Beach, California, Erin McGraw received her MFA at Indiana University and has lived in the Midwest ever since. Along with her husband, the poet Andrew Hudgins, she teaches at the Ohio State University and divides her time between Ohio and Tennessee.

Her newest novel is Better Food for a Better World. Before that she published The Seamstress of Hollywood Boulevard (a novel), The Good Life (stories), The Baby Tree (a novel), Lies of the Saints (stories, and a New York Times Notable Book for 1996), and Bodies at Sea (stories).

Here McGraw dreamcasts an adaptation of Better Food for a Better World:
Full disclosure: I hardly watch any movies. There are a lot of reasons for this, including laziness of an almost heroic degree, but the sad result is that I can't discuss the differences between Tilda Swinton's performance in We Need to Talk about Kevin and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, because I've only seen Michael Clayton. I can do a little better with Daniel Craig, because my husband has a soft spot for James Bond. So when I cast my book with A-list actors, I'm not casting out of hubris. I'm casting from a narrow base of knowledge.

That doesn't stop me from ferociously imagining my characters inhabited by humans, though. At some not-quite-pinpointable place in a book's composition, I start draping an actor's flesh around my character. It's easier to envision a scene if I can imagine the particular human beings walking through it, and when a book has a lot of characters, as Better Food for a Better World does, I need to imagine specific hair and voice and mannerisms to keep myself sane.

The book involves, Big Chill-style, three married couples who were friends in college. Pooling their money and energy, they start an ice-cream store in a college town in northern California. Because they are in California and because the book is a comedy, they also join a marriage support group, Life Ties, a kind of riff on 12-Step programs that becomes alarmingly intrusive. Life Ties members think nothing of lecturing one another on how they should behave--in public, at home, in bed. Life Ties members mean well, but they are nosy and bossy. Life Ties drives Vivy Jilet, my main character, nuts. She's a high-spirited person, impulsive, equipped with a smart mouth that sometimes gets her in trouble. It's obvious, isn't it? Julia Roberts. Gotta be.

Vivy is married to funny, easy-going Sam. He's smart, but he doesn't like getting mixed up in things, and it's hard to get the man to commit. If a meeting is called for Wednesday morning, Sam will not say ahead of time whether he'll be there or not. He always comes, but he doesn't like to tie himself down. He's that guy. In other words, he's Robert Downey Jr.

Vivy and Sam are counterbalanced by the other two couples who are their partners in the ice-cream store. Cecilia and David are earnest, dependable people--they believe in Life Ties, and they believe in their store's slogan, Better Food for a Better World. David spends a lot of time sourcing ingredients that are organic and harvested in worker-friendly conditions. Cecilia tries not to mourn the career in music she'd hoped to have, but it's not easy to trade out Mozart for Very BlueBerry Ripple. I'm seeing Elisabeth Moss and--don't laugh--Matt Damon. Really. He knows how to make earnestness interesting.

The other couple, Paul and Nancy, are more combustible. They're the self-appointed guard dogs of everybody else's life, and they are the people who give idealism a bad name. They're comic, but they're also frightening. Honestly, this is embarrassingly obvious: David Duchovny and Renée Zellweger.

Some other characters, such as Teeny Marteeny, the plump contortionist, and Fredd, the musclebound juggler, will require the casting skills of a specialist. I hope I'm allowed to watch auditions, though. I love to watch performers perform, which is exactly why this exercise is such wistful fun.
Learn more about the book and author at Erin McGraw's website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Erin McGraw & Max and Sister.

The Page 69 Test: Better Food for a Better World.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sally Cabot's "Benjamin Franklin's Bastard"

Sally Cabot lives in Brewster, Massachusetts, with her husband, Tom. A lifelong resident of New England, she is active in the local historical society and creates tours that showcase the three-hundred-year history of her village.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Benjamin Franklin's Bastard:
Benjamin Franklin’s Bastard, the movie? Hm. I have a problem. The book takes place over a span of forty years – do I select young and old versions of each character, or do I rely on the fabled Hollywood make-up/technology to age them? (Thinking Little Big Man, and yes, showing my age here). But okay, let’s do both. As few people know or remember, the young Benjamin Franklin was, handsome, strapping, intelligent, bold, witty, and possessed of both a full head of hair and a lethal charm. I’m thinking the remade Star Trek’s Captain Kirk -- Chris Pine -- might capture the young Franklin well, and Jeff Bridges might pick up on the older Franklin with ease. (Going back a way, again, but Bridges’s The Fabulous Baker Boys role is speaking to me here).

Benjamin Franklin’s bastard son William was described in the press of the day as “the handsomest man in America,” and maybe someone like Jake Gyllenhaal could carry that off. I’d want to use Sam Shepard for the older bastard, although he doesn’t look a thing like Jake, but I just have to work Sam Shepard into my movie somewhere. Maybe I should cast another favorite, Edward Norton, as the younger William, and stretch the “handsome” point – I see him evolving into Sam well.

Anne, the “low woman” who fathers the bastard, possesses a seductive innocence that I read clearly in Scarlett Johansson’s Lost in Translation role, and with The Fabulous Baker Boys still lurking in the back of my mind, why not go with Michelle Pfeiffer as the older version?

Franklin’s common-law wife, Deborah Read, wasn’t a traditional beauty, and her personality has been described as “turbulent.” As with Sam Shepard I’d love to work Meryl Streep into my film, so this leads me to her equally talented daughter, Mamie Gummer, as the younger version. They tried this, with a twist, in Evening – Mamie played another character’s daughter – but at least we know that this family can work together.

And I guess you’ve figured out by now that I haven’t been to the movies in a while.
Learn more about the author and her work at Sally Cabot's Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Katherine Keenum's "Where the Light Falls"

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Katherine Keenum graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.A. in English and earned a Ph.D. in medieval studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She worked in the publicity department of the New Orleans Public Schools, taught in the expository writing program at Yale University, and served as the executive editor of the book publishing program of the Council on East Asian Studies at Harvard University.

Here Keenum dreamcasts an adaptation of Where the Light Falls, her first published work of fiction:
While writing Where the Light Falls, a novel set largely in the art world of nineteenth-century Paris, I looked at more period paintings than recent movies. A shock of recognition came for me when I saw Thomas Eakins’ painting, The Veteran. There was my leading male character, a troubled Civil-War veteran, Edward Murer, in all his complexity. If any actor could embody that portrait, it would be Jeremy Irons; but he is too old now for the part. Luckily, in real life Daniel Day-Lewis is closer to Edward in age; surely he can play a ravaged forty.

The central character, Jeanette Palmer, is much harder for me to cast. The first post in my blog about picturing the world of the novel shows a painting of three women artists by Alfred Stevens called In the Studio. A woman in black in that painting might be Jeanette. A painting by Manet, Woman Reading, illustrates the sophisticated Parisienne Jeanette aspires to become. Yet neither picture immediately suggests to me a particular actress. The novel begins at Vassar College in 1878, when sheltered, nineteen-year-old Jeanette is being expelled for helping her roommate elope. Determined to go her own way, she manages to get to Paris to study drawing and painting, which she does very seriously. In Paris, however, she is also introduced to Edward. In a screen version of the romance that follows, viewers would need to feel comfortable watching a young woman with an older man, something that used to be taken for granted but now can seem creepy. Someone in her mid-to-late twenties rather than a true ingénue could be the answer for casting Jeanette. Not so long ago, Amy Adams might have played the part. Now? I don’t know who.

For the third most important character in the novel, Cousin Effie Pendergrast, I need a female Paul Giamatti, a decidedly unglamorous character actor who can win the audience’s heart. Mary Wickes made a career of playing wisecracking secondary roles (think Emma the housekeeper in White Christmas), but Cousin Effie is no one-note, comic sidekick. Perhaps if Jodie Foster or Holly Hunter loved the part, she would be willing to start dowdy and bring out Cousin Effie’s special spunk—adding a touch of movie glamour just for the fun of it.

For artist Amy Richardson, Jeanette’s best friend: a young Emma Thompson or today’s Mia Wasikowska.

For the dodgy journalist Robbie Dolson: Benedict Cumberbatch.

For his sad, withdrawn sister, Emily Dolson: Jessica Brown Findlay.

For Cornelia Renick, the radiant hostess who introduces Jeanette and Edward, Meryl Streep.
Learn more about the book and author at Katherine Keenum's website and blog.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Katherine Keenum and Palmer.

The Page 69 Test: Where the Light Falls.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 20, 2013

Allison Amend's "A Nearly Perfect Copy"

Allison Amend, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, is the author of the Independent Publisher’s Award-winning short story collection Things That Pass for Love and the novel Stations West, which was a finalist for the 2011 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and the Oklahoma Book Award. She lives in New York City.

Here Amend dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, A Nearly Perfect Copy:
So I’m sitting in the casting chair, a binder full of Hollywood super stars open on the desk (because such things exist, right? And because authors get to choose who stars in the movie version of their book?). I have turned down Leo (we’re on a first name basis) because, while I like his work, he’s just not right for the role.

A Nearly Perfect Copy is set in the high-intrigue, high-stakes art worlds of Paris and New York. Grieving the loss of her son, art director Elmira “Elm” Howells starts to explore ways in which she might bring him back. Meanwhile, Gabriel Connois is a 40-something Spanish artist living in Paris who can’t seem to catch a break in the art world. They both turn to forging art, with disastrous consequences.

Jeremy Sisto plays Gabriel with just the right amount of frustration, vulnerability, and self-denial. (Full disclosure: Jeremy is a friend and classmate from high school). His girlfriend, Colette, a scheming young Frenchwoman, will be played by Clémence Poésy or Emma Watson. Her uncle, who tempts Gabriel into the work of art forgery, will be portrayed by Sir Anthony Hopkins (and I will ask him to say “fava beans and a nice chianti” over and over).

Kate Winslet is perfect for the role of overwhelmed Elm, and she will rearrange her schedule for it. Her Irish husband has to be Chris O’Dowd, who coincidentally will fall in love with the author who wrote the book on which the film was based. Her colleague and young friend Ian can be played by Daniel Radcliffe, or maybe Andrew Rannells if that isn’t too obvious. We can get the youngest Fanning to play the daughter Moira, and might there be a role for me? Maybe Relay, the curvy young art advisor?
Learn more about the book and author at Allison Amend's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bill Loehfelm's "The Devil in Her Way"

Bill Loehfelm is the author of Fresh Kills, the first winner of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, and the novels The Devil She Knows and Bloodroot. He was born in Brooklyn and grew up on Staten Island; he lives in New Orleans with his wife, the writer AC Lambeth.

Here Loehfelm shares some ideas for casting the lead in a big-screen adaptation of his latest novel, The Devil in Her Way:
It’s always a fun game to play, who would you cast if... My favorite for Maureen Coughlin, a small cop with a big brain and a bigger ambitions, came as a surprise.

My brother, a movie buff who can conduct entire conversations in quotes from his favorites, insists on Jessica Chastain, a favorite actress of mine as well, especially after The Debt and Zero Dark Thirty. She’s got tenacity and portrays a desperate need to succeed really well. Hard to argue with, and not just because my brother is a lawyer.

Another actress who’s really well suited is Rose Leslie from Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey. She’s another one who, as the Rebirth Brass Band would say, got that fire, and I’m not talking about her hair color. In both roles she shows her characters’ sparking intellect, iron core, and strong aspirations to push beyond her limits. Maureen isn’t quite that red a redhead, but I’d make allowances. Like Chastain, she can add a subtle and surprising tremor of danger to a character.

For a long time, though, since the first Maureen book, Rooney Mara has been my first choice to play Maureen Coughlin - even before Mara’s incendiary performance as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I first liked Mara as Maureen when I saw her in the recent remake of Nightmare on Elm Street on a night I was up late with insomnia. I had no idea who she was at the time, but she jumped off the screen at me. Mara is loaded with talent, and has a strength and an electric crackle about her I think suits. She gives the impression there are worlds at work behind her eyes, that ghosts haunt those worlds, and that carrying those ghosts makes her a dangerous person. She was exhilarating and terrifying as Salander, and like Lisbeth, Maureen’s small stature is an important part of her character. It makes her, like dynamite, all that more explosive.
Learn more about the book and author at Bill Loehfelm's website.

The Page 69 Test: Fresh Kills.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sheri Joseph's "Where You Can Find Me"

Sheri Joseph is the author of the novels Where You Can Find Me (Thomas Dunne Books 2013) and Stray (MacAdam/Cage 2007), as well as a cycle of stories, Bear Me Safely Over (Grove/Atlantic 2002). She has received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and the Grub Street National Book Prize, among other awards. She lives in Atlanta and teaches in the creative writing program of Georgia State University.

Here Joseph dreamcasts an adaptation of Where You Can Find Me:
This exercise is a challenge for me since I don’t watch a lot of movies or pay much attention to actors. When I’m working on a book, my characters have vivid reality in my mind, but they almost never correspond to a person I’ve seen in life, or on the screen. This new book was an exception for at least one character, Marlene Vincent, the mother of a kidnapped boy, who at a certain point in the draft became cast as Mary-Louise Parker in my head. Marlene is an artist and bartender turned suburban mom: petite, tattooed, and later in the book, quite pretty. At the opening, though, she’s spent three years searching for a missing child; despite the joy of his return, the experience has rendered her haggard, hollow-eyed, brutally hardened. So the make-up artist might have some work to do at the outset. Most of the story takes place after Marlene and her two children escape to the cloud forest of Costa Rica, where she undergoes a rejuvenation that makes Parker a great fit. She has left behind her husband, Jeff, who struggles to adequately reconnect with the son he’d accepted for dead. Greg Kinnear might be good as Jeff. In Costa Rica, Marlene forges a connection with Jeff’s brother, Lowell, a kind of slacker ne’er-do-well sidekick for Marlene who brings out her playful side. I think Mark Ruffalo would be great as Lowell.

Caleb, who is really the central character, this 14-year-old who has spent three years missing… I’m stumped. The story moves to some degree between the two phases of his life: the blond boy called Nicky he was while missing, and the boy who comes home having buzzed his own head back in its natural brown. He balances a lot of personalities, many of them self-created, and he is at pains to disguise a lot of trauma that can’t help but emerge. I’ve always adored young Christian Bale’s performance in Empire of the Sun, so if I could use a time machine to cast Bale about two years after he made that film, I’d be very happy. The younger child, 11-year-old Lark, is studious, adventurous, and kind of a weirdo: maybe  Abigail Breslin when she was younger and less glamorous. Lark has a close relationship with her equally weird grandmother, Hilda, who is working to preserve the cloud forest. I can see Linda Hunt as Hilda. Mireille Enos is a natural for Julianna Brewer, the soulful F.B.I specialist in Crimes Against Children to whom Caleb becomes attached. And Jolly, the doctor arrested for kidnapping and child molestation, to whom Caleb remains to some degree loyal: I’d love to see someone really wholesome and mainstream in the role, like Ben Affleck.
Learn more about the book and author at Sheri Joseph's blog and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Where You Can Find Me.

Writers Read: Sheri Joseph.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ben Greenman's "The Slippage"

Ben Greenman is an editor at The New Yorker and the author of several acclaimed books of fiction, including Superbad, Superworse, and A Circle is a Balloon and Compass Both: Stories About Human Love. His fiction, essays, and journalism have appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Paris Review, Zoetrope: All Story, McSweeneys, and Opium, and he has been widely anthologized.

Here Greenman shares some reflections about adapting his new novel, The Slippage, for the big--and small--screen:
When I was writing The Slippage, it occurred to me that it could be a movie. When I imagined that happening, though, it wasn't in a movie theater—it was on TV, long after the movie first existed. I was older and I was watching it with people who I think may have been nieces and nephews, maybe even some of my children, but they were older too. Whatever the case, it was definitely the future. Because of that, I didn't recognize the actors, and I didn't recognize the director's name (one of the nephews walked in front of the screen, anyway), but I did recognize the tone, which is what I like to think of as Modern Aquarium. You know that kind of movie? It has a cool palette. It treats characters as if their freedom is limited because the freedom is in fact limited. It made me recognize that the book I had made was not a book that advanced the notion of human freedom, or at least consequential freedom. Characters make choices, but all roads lead to the same fate. The movie I imagined was a little depressing, but it wasn't bad. The music supervisor picked good music: Mark Mulcahy's "I Have Patience" was in there, and some Leo Kottke, and over the end credits a Mary Margaret O'Hara song ("Year In Song"). It probably says something about my understanding of movies that the thing I thought about most is what songs would be on the soundtrack.
Learn more about the book and author at Ben Greenman's website.

The Page 99 Test: A Circle Is a Balloon and Compass Both.

Writers Read: Ben Greenman.

The Page 69 Test: The Slippage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Caroline Leavitt's "Is This Tomorrow"

Caroline Leavitt is the New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You, which sold to six countries, went into five printings, and was a San Francisco Chronicle Lit Pick, a Costco "Pennie's Pick" and a NAIBA bestseller. Pictures of You is also a USA Today ebook bestseller and is on the Best Books of 2011 List from the San Francisco Chronicle, Providence Journal, Kirkus Reviews and Bookmarks Magazine. It's also one of Kirkus Reviews Top 5 books of 2011 about the Family and love.

Here Leavitt dreamcasts an adaptation of Is This Tomorrow, her tenth and latest novel:
Ah, my book, the movie. As someone who has had numerous film options that all fell apart (for three days Madonna was considering my novel Into Thin Air as her directorial debut, and then she decided to go on tour instead! For one day at Sundance, Vera Farmiga was considering Pictures of You before she was offered an HBO series!) this question has special meaning for me. I actually wrote the script for my latest novel, Is This Tomorrow, and it made the finals at Sundance last year. (Close, but not close enough, sigh.)

But I haven’t given up! I want James Mottern to direct (he did this indie movie, Trucker, about a female truck driver having to confront the son she abandoned years ago that I loved, and he’s completing filming of a new movie with Harvey Keitel) and I actually know him and have been nagging/begging him to consider the film of this book. No big shiny Hollywood blockbuster for me. I want something nuanced and haunting. I’d love Natalie Portman to play Ava Lark, the divorced Jewish woman who moves into the 1950s unwelcoming suburb with her 12-year-old son Lewis. Lewis should be an unknown. (I want this to be his big, big break!) Mark Ruffalo should play Ava’s jazzman boyfriend because you could see why she’d fall for him, even as you can notice the danger simmering underneath. And for Rose, the childhood friend who has always loved Lewis, I would love Jennifer Lawrence, who conveys such emotion just by the way she tilts her head.

The only thing I might insist upon is that I want to play a waitress in the film. One of those pony-tailed, wise-cracking waitresses that calls customers, “hun.” If I can do that, I’ll die happy.
View the trailer for Is This Tomorrow, and learn more about the book and author at Caroline Leavitt's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Pictures of You.

My Book, the Movie: Pictures of You.

Writers Read: Caroline Leavitt (January 2011).

Writers Read: Caroline Leavitt.

The Page 69 Test: Is This Tomorrow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tiffany Hawk's "Love Me Anyway"

Tiffany Hawk is writer living near Washington D.C. whose work has appeared in such places as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, National Geographic Traveler and on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Her debut novel, Love Me Anyway, is a darkly funny look into the emotional heart of the airline industry, with all its allure, loneliness, and ever-present temptations.

Here Hawk dreamcasts a big-screen adaptation of Love Me Anyway:
I had so much fun with this. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my writer friends and I sometimes fantasize about seeing our books on the big screen, as wildly unrealistic as that is. It’s funny, though, to reimagine these characters for what turns out to be the second time. Very early on, my book was inspired by real people, but as their characters took on a life of their own, they began to form their own distinctive appearances in my mind, not quite like their inspirations, and not like actors either.

I would love to see Kirsten Dunst as Emily, the shy 23 year-old who finds both her awakening and her undoing up there in the sky. Dunst was brilliant as a flight attendant in the movie Elizabethtown. She absolutely embodied the complexity of the airline life – she had this innocence and openness, and yet you could tell she’d seen everything.

KC is young, beautiful, and blonde, but she’s also carrying a lot of baggage. As a flight attendant, she has the whole world in front of her, but all she really wants is to bring her mom back to health and her estranged father back into their lives. I think Adrianne Palicki, who was pitch perfect as Tyra on Friday Night Lights, would knock it out of the park. Like Tyra, KC had few opportunities as a child, but she has the chutzpah to create the life she really wants – if only she could stop getting involved with the wrong men.

Here’s where I get political. Disturbingly, Hollywood still doesn’t cast Asian men in leading roles, unless it’s a martial arts flick, so I fear it would be difficult to cast Tien, the married man Emily cannot resist. It has been suggested many times that if the book were to become a film, I should just be realistic and change the male lead to a white American. No! The legacy of Vietnam is an important part of the story, and it’s also a story about opening up and letting the world in. Besides, I refuse to perpetuate racism and xenophobia.

Daniel Dae Kim from Lost and Hawaii Five-O would be an obvious choice because he is so well known, but a friend also reminded me of Dustin Nguyen of 21 Jumpstreet fame. Yes! It’s kismet. Dustin and Tien share a last name, and both escaped from Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon. More importantly, there is something very soulful about Dustin Nguyen. I think he could pull off Tien’s inner torment – the impossibility of loving two women, of trying to keep his family together but failing to end the affair that makes him feel alive and wanted and young again.

Of course, as I fantasize about the big screen, I should mention the small screen. Thanks to a fabulous director/animator named Jerrold Ridenour, Love Me Anyway has already been made into a brilliant (I think) short film that you can watch right now.
Learn more about the book and author at Tiffany Hawk's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bridget Siegel's "Domestic Affairs"

Bridget Siegel, author of Domestic Affairs: A Campaign Novel, has worked on political campaigns at the local, state, and national levels. A graduate of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, she is now an actor, writer, and political consultant. She lives in New York City.

Here Siegel dreamcasts an adaptation of Domestic Affairs:
I imagine every author pictures their novel making it to the big screen. Add on my lifelong dream of being an actress and you have got yourself one heck of a daydreaming author. And while my self-recording of the audiobook proved it can be performed as a one woman play, I think we can all agree that's a show better left undone. In the real world I'd get a casting director extraordinaire like Dani Super but in my oft visited dream world here's my wish list...

(I know I picked more than one for some, but I figured if I'm going to dream I might as well go all out, and well, I did narrow each category down from the 20 I started off with.)

Screenwriters - Shonda Rhimes and Aaron Sorkin. Any politico's dream screenwriters. A mix of The Newsroom and Scandal? Need I say more?

Directors - Rob Reiner, in my eyes he's what classics are made of, and Ben Affleck, because he's got a rom-com classic in him, I just know it.

Governor Landon Taylor (the politician with more charm than he -- or anyone around him -- needs) Ben Affleck. He's a little young for it but he gets the politics and I know he could rock some hot, wavy hair. Though I definitely would not be upset if we wound up with Don Cheadle or George Clooney.

Aubrey Taylor (the not so nice Southern Belle wife) -- Elizabeth Banks. Who could resist Avery Jessup with a southern accent? Or Sanaa Lathan who could definitely do a secretly mean but universally loved soon to be First Lady.

Jacob (the loyal and quippy sidekick) -- Andrew Garfield, who could definitely do the nerdy, cool thing.

Olivia (the girl who falls for the politician) -- I'm going for stars on the rise here. I just filmed a movie with Amanda Setton and Renée Felice Smith and I think either of them would be amazing in the role.

As for me, of course, I'd jump in to any of the supporting roles, for which I'd surely win an Oscar. And ... scene.

© 2013 Bridget Siegel, author of Domestic Affairs: A Campaign Novel
Learn more about the book and author at Bridget Siegel's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 11, 2013

David Walton's "Quintessence"

David Walton won the 2008 Philip K. Dick Award for his debut novel, Terminal Mind.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest novel, Quintessence:
I will assume, for the sake of argument, that I have godlike casting power, that the proposed Quintessence movie is expected to be so popular that there are no budget limits, and that any actor would jump at the chance to get a part.

For Christopher Sinclair, the alchemist and explorer obsessed with immortality, the choice is easy: Russell Crowe. Crowe can play any role well, but this is just the sort of character he does perfectly: intelligent, tormented, fixated on an impossible goal. Sinclair drives the plot of the story, and whether he's a hero or a villain is not always easy to decide.

Stephen Parris is a physician whose son has died, despite his best efforts to save him, driving him to perform secret human dissections to understand the body. He's British, aristocratic, and capable of obsession in his own right. For Parris, I nominate Hugh Jackman -- think of his role in The Prestige rather than X-Men.

Finally, there's Parris’s teenage daughter, Catherine: strong-willed, clever, independent, and longing to redefine the role society has cast for her. I have a lot more trouble with this one, since it would necessarily need to be someone young, and thus not very well known yet. Someone with the intensity Jennifer Lawrence showed in The Hunger Games, only younger. And British.

In all, though I doubt it will ever be made, I think Quintessence would make a great movie: beautiful locales, action on the open water, period costumes, giant sea monsters, loathsome villains, and young romance. Sounds like a blockbuster to me!
Learn more about the book and author at David Walton's website.

Writers Read: David Walton.

The Page 69 Test: Quintessence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 10, 2013

David Farber's "Everybody Ought to Be Rich"

David Farber is Professor of History at Temple University. He is the author of The Rise and Fall of Modern American Conservatism; Taken Hostage: The Iran Hostage Crisis and America's First Encounter with Radical Islam; and Sloan Rules: Alfred P. Sloan and the Triumph of General Motors.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, Everybody Ought to Be Rich: The Life and Times of John J. Raskob, Capitalist:
My man, John Raskob, couldn’t sit still. He ran through life reinventing himself every few years. He got bored easily. He had a prodigious gift for numbers and for risk-taking. He started off as a newsie in the little Erie Canal support town, Lockport (the very same place Fitzgerald has Dick Diver land after his alcoholic fall from grace), and ended up managing the DuPont Company and General Motors. He was a famous—then infamous—King of the Bull Market during the Jazz Age. He thought up the Empire State Building, built it, and owned most it. He was a devout Catholic and was made a Knight of Malta by Pope Pius. He had thirteen children but after he became very rich he enjoyed the life of a New York City boulevardier, far from his wife and family.

Raskob’s mid-life adventure in politics, I think, is the chapter of his life best fitted to silver screendom. And, alas, my protagonist would play the part of the heavy. In 1928, Raskob managed the presidential campaign of his fellow Irish-Catholic, New York Governor Al Smith. After Smith lost to Hoover, Raskob stayed on as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He wanted to make the Democrats the party of Big Business. Naturally, he worked hard to deny Franklin Roosevelt the 1932 nomination. That’s the background to our picture show.

In 1934, Raskob decided to lead the charge against the New Deal. With a bevy of other extraordinarily wealthy men, featuring his best friend Pierre du Pont and a who’s who of Brass Hat industrialists, Raskob founded and organized the American Liberty League. For two years the League mounted the largest reactionary political campaign the United States had ever seen. It was a war between the forces of Big Money and New Deal Liberalism. Roosevelt relished the fight. As he stoutly proclaimed to rapturous applause during his 1936 campaign: “I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second administration that in it these forces have met their master.” Guess who wins this fight? The stakes for the future of the nation could not have been higher.


Al Pacino as John Jakob Raskob

Bill Murray (he already has the cigarette holder) as Franklin Roosevelt

Jeremy Irons as Pierre du Pont

Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
Learn more about Everybody Ought to Be Rich at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Everybody Ought to Be Rich.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Brad Tyer's "Opportunity, Montana"

Brad Tyer has worked as an editor at the Missoula Independent and the Texas Observer. His writing has appeared in Outside, High Country News, the New York Times Book Review, the Houston Chronicle, the Drake, Texas Monthly, No Depression, and the Dallas Morning News. He's been awarded a Knight-Wallace Fellowship, a Fund for Investigative Journalism grant, and a Fishtrap writing residency.

Tyer's new book is Opportunity, Montana: Big Copper, Bad Water, and the Burial of an American Landscape.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of Opportunity, Montana:
Here's the fun of this exercise for me: Opportunity, Montana: Big Copper, Bad Water, and the Burial of an American Landscape will never be a movie. The book's murders are entirely tangential, and fish are the only ones having any sex. The story traverses 10,000 years, and it doesn't always go in order. I had when I wrote it and have now no cinematic ambition or expectation for the book. It's a story I think is best told in book form. If I'd wanted to make a movie, I'd have made a movie.

But let's say  Terrence Malick directs it, all maddeningly ponderous long shots of landscape and weather. I see Montana's three 19th century Copper Kings, who took their fortunes and left the state with a ring of poison, as a tense Steve Buscemi, a fat Jack Black (in a serious turn), and The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons.

Joel Chavez, the engineer rebuilding a river destroyed by 100 years of mining, is totally Cheech Marin. The environmentalist who takes down a dam is Zero Dark Thirty's Jessica Chastain. The conscience of Opportunity, Montana—George Niland—strikes me as particularly Edward James Olmosesqe. Dennis Washington, the yachting multibillionaire who's fashioned an ecosystem into a funnel of cash, is definitely  Robert Redford.

Then there's the memoir part, me and my deceased dad, Bob. Glen Campbell should play Bob. And I'm going with Jason Bateman for me. Not because he looks or sounds or acts anything like me, but because I'm pretty sure nobody especially loathes Jason Bateman.

The book's most important character, though, is the state of Montana itself. Unlike certain other films purportedly set in Montana (I'm looking at you, Legends of the Fall), Opportunity will be filmed—though of course it will never be filmed—in Montana.
Learn more about the book and author at Brad Tyer's website and the Opportunity, Montana blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Bob Harris's "The International Bank of Bob"

Bob Harris's books include Who Hates Whom (2007), a pocket guide to global conflict; Beyond Caprica (2010), a mock travel guide to the 12 colonies of the Caprica/Battlestar Galactica universe; Prisoner of Trebekistan (2006), a memoir of 13 Jeopardy! games over 10 years; and the recently released The International Bank of Bob: Connecting Our Worlds One $25 Kiva Loan at a Time.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of The International Bank of Bob:
The Bank of Bob is a memoir, so you're asking who should play me. My vanity is so happy it's almost vibrating.

Ideally: Matt Damon, because he's already involved in poverty alleviation, or possibly Brad Pitt, given his charity toward New Orleans in the wake of Katrina.

More accurately: Paul Giamatti, because he is formed in the shape of a writer. Second choice: the Michelin Man.
Learn more about the book and author at Bob Harris's website.

The Page 69 Test: Bob Harris's Prisoner of Trebekistan.

Writers Read: Bob Harris.

The Page 99 Test: The International Bank of Bob.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Joanna Hershon's "A Dual Inheritance"

Joanna Hershon is the author of Swimming, The Outside of August, and The German Bride. Her writing has appeared in One Story, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Post Road, the literary anthology Brooklyn Was Mine, and was shortlisted for the 2007 O. Henry Prize Stories.

Here she shares some ideas for the cast of an adaptation of her new novel, A Dual Inheritance:
A Dual Inheritance spans about 50 years, which is always a challenge for a movie, though some wonderful films (Iris with Kate Winslet and Judi Dench) comes to mind) solve the casting issues brilliantly. I never write with a movie actor in mind, nor do I think about the book as a film while I’m writing. I’m also a film lover and I used to act, so I take my casting seriously!

When we meet the three main characters they are seniors at Harvard. There are honestly no current actors that spring to mind for a young Ed Cantowitz, but maybe Andrew Garfield? Shia LeBeouf? I’m sure there are some amazing “unknowns” who’d be perfect; a younger Liev Schreiber would have been good; maybe he could still pull it off. For a young Hugh Shipley, I see Alexander Skarsgård. I was dazzled by his performance in Lars Von Trier’s apocalyptic Melancholia. As the young Helen Shipley? Maybe Mia Wasikowska? Kirsten Dunst?

For Ed’s father, Murray Cantowitz, Fred Ward could be perfect. I’ve always had a thing for him.

Dustin Hoffman could be good as older Ed, I’d love to see Sam Shepard play an older Hugh. Meryl Streep is for sure the older Helen but I’d also love to see the actress Laila Robins, who I’ve admired in various roles, including Dr. Paul Weston’s (Gabriel Byrne’s) first girlfriend on In Treatment.

Rebecca (Ed’s daughter) has to age as well, and I think Natalie Portman could carry off playing her from a teenager to a woman in her late thirties. Vivi (Ed’s Daughter) has the same acting demands and could be played beautifully by Jemima Kirke.

This is a sweeping saga and heavily populated, so there are many fun casting opportunities but these characters are the heart of the story. I’d love to hear what other readers come up with.
Learn more about the author and her work at Joanna Hershon's website.

The Page 69 Test: The German Bride.

My Book, The Movie: The German Bride.

Writers Read: Joanna Hershon.

The Page 69 Test: A Dual Inheritance.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dennis Palumbo's "Night Terrors"

Formerly a Hollywood screenwriter (My Favorite Year; Welcome Back, Kotter, etc.), Dennis Palumbo is now a licensed psychotherapist and author of Writing From the Inside Out. As a fiction writer, his short stories have appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, The Strand, Written By and elsewhere, and are collected in From Crime to Crime.

Palumbo is also the author of the Daniel Rinaldi series of mysteries. The debut novel was Mirror Image, followed by Fever Dream, and the newly released Night Terrors.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of the series:
After writing three books in my Daniel Rinaldi series, I have a pretty good feel for the continuing characters who populate my “mean streets” of Pittsburgh.

My lead character, Dr. Daniel Rinaldi, is an Italian-American psychologist who was born and raised in the Steel City (okay, so he wasn’t exactly a stretch!). He’s passionate about his work treating crime victims, is stubborn and opinionated, and has a snarky sense of humor. He’s also a former amateur boxer (Golden Gloves, Pan Am Games), so casting him for a film isn’t easy. I could see Anthony LaPaglia playing Rinaldi, or one of Hollywood’s “usual suspects” like Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman or Russell Crowe, though I really like Viggo Mortensen. I admired the intelligence, intensity and humor that he brought to his portrayal of Freud in the recent film, A Dangerous Method. I figure, if Mortensen was good enough to play the father of psychoanalysis, he’s good enough to play Dan Rinaldi.

For Noah Frye, a paranoid schizophrenic and Rinaldi’s best friend, I think it’s a toss-up between Zach Galifianakis and Jonah Hill. Both are fine comic actors with just the right amount of pathos and lunacy in their eyes.

For Eleanor Lowrey, the beautiful Pittsburgh PD homicide detective whose relationship with Rinaldi goes from professional to personal, I like either Kerry Washington (from Django Unchained and the TV series Scandal) or award-winning actress Viola Davis (Doubt, The Help, etc.)

In Night Terrors, Daniel Rinaldi is asked to treat Lyle Barnes, a whip-smart, arrogant retired FBI profiler suffering from agonizing, debilitating nocturnal visions. I could definitely see character actor David Strathairn (the Bourne movies, Good Night and Good Luck, etc.) as Barnes, though either Jeremy Irons or Sam Elliott would make fine choices, too.

Finally, as the gruff, seen-it-all veteran police sergeant Harry Polk, I’d be happy with either Dennis Farina or Michael Chiklis. Though the perfect choice would be one of my all-time favorite character actors, the late, great Jack Warden. If you remember him in The Verdict, you also recall that he stole every scene he was in!

Well, that’s my cast list. Now the next thing I need to see and hear is the words “Coming to a theater near you...”
Learn more about the book and author at Dennis Palumbo's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Amy Sue Nathan's "The Glass Wives"

Amy Sue Nathan lives and writes near Chicago where she hosts the popular blog, Women's Fiction Writers. She has published articles in Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune and New York Times Online among many others. Nathan is the proud mom of a son and a daughter in college, and a willing servant to two rambunctious rescued dogs.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of The Glass Wives, her debut novel:
When I was writing The Glass Wives I pictured only two characters—Andie MacDowell as the protagonist’s best friend Laney because they both have long curly hair, and George Clooney as Sandy, because it’s easy to picture George Clooney for any reason.

But the main characters, Evie and Nicole, those images came to me after the book was finished and I was onto writing the next, and only randomly as I saw different actors in movies or on TV. I see Sandra Bullock as Evie and  Drew Barrymore as Nicole. Bullock has the serious/comedic quality I think Evie possesses, and after I saw an interview with Barrymore as a new mom, I knew that she would be perfect for Nicole.

I see Diane Lane as Beth, and it’s her voice and classy demeanor that cinched that for me. Now if I could only get any of them to agree with me!
Learn more about the book and author at Amy Sue Nathan's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Amy Sue Nathan & Mitzi and Lizzie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 2, 2013

JoeAnn Hart's "Float"

JoeAnn Hart lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts, America's oldest seaport, where fishing regulations, the health of the ocean, and the natural beauty of the world are the daily topics of wonder and concern. She is the author of the novels Addled, a social satire that intertwines animal rights with the politics of food, and the recently released Float.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of Float:
A few months ago I participated in The Next Big Thing Project, a web-based chain letter where a writer is tapped to answer some questions on what they’re working on and then posts it on their blog, tapping a few other writers to answer those same questions on theirs. One of the questions was: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? My novel, Float, a work of eco-fiction, is set in coastal Maine. The protagonist is Duncan Leland, who is separated from his wife Cora, his anchor. Financially, he is underwater with his business, a fish waste processing plant, and emotionally, well, he’s living back at home with his mother, who hasn’t left the house in ten years. That sums up his mental state. The plot is driven by jellyfish and plastics in the ocean. This is who I envisioned playing these characters back in the fall:

Colin Farrell for Duncan; Minnie Driver for Cora; Meryl Streep for his crazy mom. Phillip Seymour Hoffman for Osbert, the mysterious financier, and Frances McDormand for Josefa, the seagull rescue character. Will Ferrell for Slocum, the slightly deranged chef.”

Sorry, Colin, love ya, but you’re getting the ax. It was a total miscast. Nothing personal, it’s just showbiz. The part of Duncan is going to Hugh Jackman. Jackman’s got the goofiness for Duncan, as well as the necessary gravitas. Minnie Driver is still my choice for Cora, because I saw Driver in The Riches series with Eddie Izzard and I think she makes a great aggrieved wife without being pathetic. What a cute couple she and Jackman will make! Colin, even you have to agree that’s true.

If Hoffman, McDormand and Ferrell are tied up in other productions, then we wait until they’re free. No substitutions. But if we’re in a pinch, Candice Bergen can substitute for Streep. I forgot to cast Nod, Duncan’s brother. Poor Nod. I say it goes to Casey Affleck, who is used to playing the other brother. Another key player I forgot about was Annuncia, the Green Fish activist at Duncan’s company. Kirstie Alley gets that one hands down. Don’t lose any more weight just yet, Kirstie!

Chandu, the Newfoundland dog, the same breed as Nana in Peter Pan, will be played by a shelter dog, who will be dramatically rescued just hours before being euthanatized and there will just happen to be the crew of “The Making of Float, the Movie” filming this tender moment. Chandu will go on to be one of the great canine stars of all time, and after a lengthy career at Disney, will retire to my house.
Learn more about the book and author at JoeAnn Hart's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: JoeAnn Hart and Daisy.

The Page 69 Test: Float.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hallie Ephron's "There Was an Old Woman"

Hallie Ephron made a splash writing suspense with Never Tell a Lie published by HarperCollins in 2009. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called it “stunning” and a “deliciously creepy tale of obsession.” USA Today: “You can imagine Hitchcock curling up with this one.” It was nominated for multiple awards, including the Mary Higgins Clark Award, and was adapted for film as And Baby Will Fall for the Lifetime Movie Network.

Here Ephron dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, There Was an Old Woman:
There Was an Old Woman is about two women. Thirty-something Evie Ferrante who is a hipster New York museum curator, and Evie's mother's 91-year-old neighbor, Mina Yetner, a retired bookkeeper who once worked in the Empire State Building.

Each of their worlds is coming apart. Acerbic, opinionated, resilient Mina is terrified that she's not so slowly losing her mind. Evie has been dragged home to deal with her alcoholic mother who's been hospitalized -- again. But this time, the usually tidy home where Evie grew up has turned into a hoarder's nest, and Evie's mother was never a hoarder.

Mina and Evie form a bond of friendship across a gap two generations wide, and it's that bond that keeps them both sane.

Here's my dream cast:
Mina Yetner: Julie Harris (remember, The Belle of Amherst?)
Evie Ferrante: Jennifer Garner

Can't you just see them side by side?
Learn more about the book and author at Hallie Ephron's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Never Tell A Lie.

Writers Read: Hallie Ephron (April 2011).

--Marshal Zeringue